Set on the beautiful banks of the Douro River is the idyllic city of Porto with its amazing infrastructure and brightly coloured tiles you are sure to swoon. I arrived in Porto 4 days ago and since then I have been jam packing as much as possible in. So here is what I got up to in this UNESCO World Heritage hub (I swear Portugal is hogging all the sites!).
Accommodation: Wine Hostel
I figured that since I am wine-obsessed this would be the best place for me to be passed and at 50 Euro a night for a double room with own ensuite this is not too bad. The hostel is pretty cool, it covers 4 levels and each level is named after a port style; Pink, White, Ruby and Tawny. There is a lot of Port literature and pictures around the place and it is super clean – a great hostel. The only downer from my point of view is that they have no wine activities. There are no tasting evenings, ok you can buy a shot of port for .30cents during happy hour but that’s it! What also disappointed me is that the staff doesn’t really have any idea about what places are best to hit for wine buffs in Porto either. It’s a great hostel if you want a decent place to stay but don’t expect there to be much to do with wine there.
Visiting the Port Houses:
I dedicated a full day to walk around the area of Vila Nova de Gaia. From the hostel it would be about a half an hour walk down the hill and across one of the many magnificent bridges here in Porto. However don’t worry you can also take the metro if you want to save up your energy for the Port houses. I am going to condense this so you know exactly who is free, who isn’t and what the cost is (you would think the hostel would have had this info, but no!):
1. Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman – free 15min tour + tasting of two ports (tasting sizes are super generous!)
2. Rozés – By appointment only.
3. Croft – free 15min tour + tasting of two ports
4. Offley Forrester – 2.50 Euros per person for a tour and tasting of two ports
5. Cockburn’s – No visits.
6. Vasconcellos – 3 Euro each for a tour & tasting however if you buy a bottle at the end you can forgo the tour charge.
7. Sandeman – Approx 4 Euro for a tour and tasting.
8. Quinta do Noval – The board outside says free tasting, this is only true if you buy a bottle. Tastings start at around 2 Euro.
9. Calém – Approx 4 Euro for a tour and tasting.
10. Quevedo – Free tasting.
11. Krohn – Free Tasting.
I also have to mention that on the waterfront close to Noval there is a little port shop/bar – stop in there and taste the 10 year old Tawny port with your choice of port induced macaroons. Delish!
The Douro River:
You will find when you visit Porto that there are a ton of people trying to sell you boat trips up the Douro. The common one is the 6-bridge 1-hour cruise for 10 Euro pp. Not bad if you just want a cruise however I was itching to see the terraced vines so I had two choices – I could pay 60 Euro to train up to Régua and then boat back down or for 23 Euro I could train all the way up to Pocinho and back of course with a homemade picnic to enjoy along the way. I opted for the latter being a backpacker and all and it was fabulous. The train follows the river up all the way so you have some amazing views. If you want to see the vines and save money this is the way to go. The round trip takes about 6-7 hours so make sure you back a good picnic.
That sums up my time in Porto. It is a beautiful city and I hope someday in the future I can make it back here as I would love to head further North to the home of the famed Vinho Verde. It’s time to hit the road again… Tomar here we come.